ARCH 542: Landscape Architecture Design

Landscape Beyond Land

“Whether we speak of fishing zones or fish migration, coastal resilience or tropical storms, the ocean is both a frame for regulatory controls and a field of uncontrollable, indivisible processes. To characterize the ocean as catastrophic—imperiled environment, coastal risk, or contested territory—is to overlook its potential power.” – Pierre Belanger, “The Other 71 Percent,” Harvard Design Magazine, Vol 39: Wet Matter, 2014

In this design-research studio, we are extending landscape thinking beyond land to address “the other 71 percent” of our planet’s surface – our oceans. Stopping at the coastline as the hard line between land and the undefinable or unknowable sea (as is commonly done in our field) is clearly not an effective strategy to understand how to live (and die) in the crises we have created. Whether terrestrial or marine, we are all immersed in and part of the atmospheric forces of the hydrologic cycle. The ocean cannot be Othered as something “out there” since it binds as together on this fracturing planet. This studio asserts that our skills not only apply to the “design” of our oceans, but that they are in fact critical and necessary in addressing some of the most pressing ecological and climate issues of today. As a planetary system, imagining the future of our oceans is essential to our obligatory efforts at achieving improved health, equity and resilience.

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